NeoGames confirmed in mid-June that it had completed a previously announced tender offer to acquire Aspire Global, in a $480m transaction expected to finalize in the second week of August.
The combination of these two companies will see the creation of a leading global provider in interactive content, proprietary technology, as well as gaming operations, according to NeoGames.
Speaking to SBC, the CEO of Aspire Global and new President of the iGaming division of NeoGames Tsachi Maimon talked about the company’s structure after the acquisition and how this will influence the path that Aspire had achieved in Latin America.
SBC: Throughout 2021 and the start of 2022 we’ve seen increased M&A activity, with companies interested in setting their footprint in LatAm. Has this trend influenced Aspire Global’s decision to accept NeoGames’ offer?
Tsachi Maimon: Naturally, given the size of opportunity that exists within LatAm – especially with the roll-out of regulation in major countries including Argentina and Brazil – our focus is on hitting the ground running when important markets open up. The NeoGames partnership enables both parties to do just that, as it provides everything needed for operators in the region to get to market quickly and to grow.
From an Aspire Global perspective our M&A strategy, which we have deployed so successfully, has given us greater control of the overall value chain through owning multiple products. From acquiring Pariplay and BtoBet through to the investment in bingo supplier END 2 END, the last three years have seen us bring in-house critical areas of the igaming value chain so that we can deliver a comprehensive offering to operators.
SBC: What effect do you think this acquisition will have on the company’s presence in Latin America?
T.M.: The acquisition will significantly accelerate our access to both new and existing jurisdictions in the region, thanks to NeoGames’ additional contacts and expertise. One example of this is the recent deal with Intralot do Brasil which operates Loteria Mineira, the official lottery in Brazil’s second-largest state, Minas Gerais. This has seen us provide it with our end-to-end sportsbook solution BtoBet, an agreement that is a concrete example of how our products and services can benefit the iLottery sector in LatAm. Operators are already benefiting from Aspire Global’s solutions in Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil, and as a leader in the digital lottery space, we expect that our alliance with NeoGames will present plenty of significant new opportunities to increase our footprint over the coming months.
SBC: What are the biggest organizational changes that will we see?
T.M.: The most notable change is that Aspire Global has become the iGaming division of the NeoGames group. Other than that, our main organizational focus is on creating growth synergies that will help the overall organization to continue establishing itself as a leading global iGaming provider.
SBC: With regards to Aspire Global’s plans in the region, what place will Latin America have in the new company?
T.M.: It will continue to be a region of great importance and as we see it, the NeoGames deal will help to accelerate our growth ambitions. In LatAm as in so many other regions globally, the untapped potential for iLottery, in particular, is huge. If you look at the example of the United States, iLottery only represents a small fraction of a lottery market that is worth $105 bn annually, and the same trend is true within LatAm. We believe iLottery has the potential to explode in popularity in the region and that NeoGames’ partners will seek turnkey solutions that also provide access to sports betting and iGaming products and services so that they can maximize that opportunity.
SBC: The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies has recently approved a regulation for the gambling industry, do you think this will be a game changer for the industry this year? Will it disrupt the companies’ plans for the second half of 2022 or is this approval something that had been previously taken into account?
T.M.: We have been carefully monitoring developments in Brazil for a long time and will be offering a comprehensive turnkey solution for operators to be up and running from day one of the regulated market in the country, whenever that happens to be. In terms of the PAM, we are offering operators both API and template partners their own dedicated .br domain, in addition to copyright for the Brazilian market. In terms of front-end, operators can either take our ready-to-go template or choose to create their bespoke website.
Localized enhancements are key and to that end, we are also in the process of adding new payment solutions to the PAM, while also providing operators with content specifically designed to appeal to the region’s unique player preferences. Brazil has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest igaming markets, so we are already working extremely hard in preparation for the new regulations to take effect.
SBC: Last year, in an interview with SBC’s CasinoBeats, you said that the company was working hard in Brazil and that it had great plans for the future. Now that there’s a big chance of seeing a legal market and that there’s an actual regulation on paper, do you still believe Brazil could be a key global market?
Without a doubt. We have seen the regulatory framework and with unlimited fixed-term licenses for operators, in addition to taxation that is based on revenues rather than stakes, there appears to be scope for the legal market to establish itself relatively quickly. Given that it is the fifth largest country in the world, with a population that loves sport, casino games and bingo, our comprehensive turnkey offering can support those brands that are aiming to launch in the market. We already supply our AspireCore Platform and Sportsbook solution to William Hill, Rush Street Interactive, and Betfair in Colombia and are live on the regulated Mexican market, while the recent deal with Intralot do Brasil in the country further showcases our credentials. It will certainly be exciting to see how the market develops.